Stripping for Iran, the Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar

 How did you come up with the idea for the nude revolutionaries calendar?

Maryam Namazie: I wanted to do something to support Aliaa Magda El-Mahdy and her “scream” against misogyny. I thought her action took a lot of guts and was important particularly given the military and Islam’s counter-revolutionary assault on women’s rights and freedom of expression in Egypt. I remembered a group of women who had posed nude for a cause and who became known as the “calendar girls,” and thought a calendar would be a good way of organizing support rather than doing an individual act of solidarity. Of course at the time, when I mentioned it on my blog, I hadn’t thought of how difficult it would be to find women and men to do it and also how hard it would be for me to have my own photo taken.

 What kind of responses have you had so far?

Namazie: I try not to read too many of the negative responses as they can be truly vile. Nothing brings out the misogyny in people more than nudity. Nonetheless, I have honestly been surprised at the level of support, which has been heart-warming. I would hope that Aliaa has been as pleased with the positive responses as I am.

 What kind of message are you trying to send with the calendar?

Namazie: First and foremost, I wanted to say that it is important to support brave women like Aliaa. I wanted to make sure that Aliaa did not feel alone because she wasn’t. She had tremendous support and I wanted to do something to show it. Of course nudity is not the only way to support Aliaa, but it was an important and necessary response in this instance, particularly given how it seems to offend and outrage. 

I also wanted to state very clearly that there is nothing wrong with nudity. What’s problematic is the commodification and objectification of women’s bodies and not nudity in and of itself. Nudity, in the way that Aliaa portrayed it or is portrayed in the calendar, is deeply humanizing.

What I find most interesting in all of this is that opposition to the calendar comes not only from Islamists and chauvinists who think that woman’s bodies are obscene and that nudity is a violation of national “honor” and society’s “chastity” and “morality,” but from “veteran” women’s rights campaigners who equate the calendar and nudity with naked images of women in the tabloids. Ironically, Islamists often portray their vile politics as a prescription for the debasement of women in western societies but they hold the very same debased image of women’s bodies that they claim to oppose. The views of the calendar’s opponents (though they seem to conflict) are all rooted in a religious and pornographic image of women’s bodies as sexualized and obscene.

 It’s an interesting contrast: using female nudity as a message against oppression. Could you talk a bit about that?

When you are faced with an Islamic movement that considers you to be worth half of what a man is worth and demands that you be bound, gagged, veiled and segregated, then nudity becomes an important form of resistance and dissent as well as solidarity.

Nudity is the antithesis of veiling. It is a very modern way of challenging Islamism and the veil. Islamists want us covered up, hidden, not seen and not heard; we refuse to comply.

In many places - from Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iraq to even Islamist strongholds in Britain and the West - it is a crime to be an unveiled or improperly veiled woman. In such a situation, nudity is an important way of saying: “Enough! No More!”

 Was it difficult to find women willing to pose nude?

Namazie: It was difficult to find women for the calendar; many of those who had originally agreed to do it pulled out for various reasons, including because they couldn’t do full-frontal nudity in keeping with Aliaa’s original photo. Also, initially I had decided to include men but didn’t receive any professional photos which could be used. Finally, though, we managed to find an amazing group of women – diverse in their bodies as well as in their thoughts - to bring the calendar to fruition.

I am sure there were different degrees of comfort or discomfort with the project amongst the women involved. Some were more comfortable than others. I myself found it incredibly difficult to have my photo taken; it is possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done. I realized how deep-seated and negative some of my feelings were about my own body. It was such a painful process for me, but by the time the calendar went public, I was over it and no longer “embarrassed,” and for that I will always be grateful.

Added to my own insecurities were “pressures” from people who felt it was “inappropriate” for someone in my “position” to do such a thing, which only made me more determined. It’s interesting how uncomfortable nudity is the closer to home it is. Aliaa’s nudity “tarnished the Egyptian revolution,” Golshifteh Farahani, an entire nation. And as for myself and the Iranian women in the [calendar, we arguably tarnished the image of] an entire nation and also the political opposition in Iran.

To purchase a copy of the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar via Paypal, click here.

You can also download a
free copy here.

  • james.gillies.710

    So many people in these comments equating nudity with porn. So may people seeking to control women's bodies. How sad on both counts! I am not particularly left or right leaning, and I am a grandfather whose daughter has gifted the family with three lovely grandchildren, so I understand the woman who commented that she prefers to express herself in those terms. I am also a religious man who understands why other religious people seek to build frameworks of morality which honour God. I make these points to make it clear that one may possess all these qualities and still admire Aalia Al-Mahdi and Maryam Namazie's methods of expressing their femininity. To brand them simply as seekers after fame or fortune is disingenuous. It is like branding the person who voices an unpopular (or merely different) opinion as impertinent. Seeking to censor either censors us all. Perhaps one day, in a more mature age, each of will be happy to be just who we are, and not seek to subvert the God given rights of others to their free expression in an effort to camouflage our own fears. Aalia and Maryam, God gave you the gift of free will and the minds to know how best to apply it. Let no-one take it away from you!

    February 2, 2013

  • munangela

    I can't even express how much I admire you. All the ladies in the calendar are beautiful in a genuine, human way. I am delighted to see women's bodies and their nudity to be given other then plain sexual connotations. I think it is time that we re-dignify the female sexuality. You are a real inspiration for all women.

    December 23, 2012

  • ruhulamin

    very bad idea. in islam women get the highest honour of all. any one go trhough islam can find it only peace and peace. islam phobia is a disease. the know-nothing people always come against islam. please read about islam, and then make comments.

    May 19, 2012

  • Steve Atkins

    Congratulations all you wonderful brave women !! To all those who have negative comments about this calender - what do you do to change our world for the better? What do you do to fight against Islamism or extremist intolerance of any kind? What do you do to stand up for equality? These wonderful women have real guts. It is so easy to criticise from behind your computer screen. I suggest you try and make the world a more egalitarian, compassionate place rather than criticise those who strive for progress and equality.

    April 29, 2012

  • Salma

    nudity is not a solution.Those who manifest this way are running after celebrity and money. .

    April 12, 2012

  • ramsis

    Bravo ladies I really admire your courage and creativity the Iranian people are all prisoners living in a system similar and even worse than the Syrian murdering regime. I think these two regimes are the last of the worst dictatorships left on earth. God help the people or Syria and Iran to get rid of the oppressors that make their lives a living hell every minute of the day.

    April 12, 2012

  • mike

    Why don't we all just strip down? Idiots...

    April 11, 2012

  • Francesco Sinibaldi

    The first singing. Somewhere the soft wind becomes an experience that calls the desire of an inner intention. Francesco Sinibaldi

    April 7, 2012

  • Himation

    The difference between the Egyptian teenage nude and this calendar was that the teenage nude was diliberatly titalating - for this calendar to have any sucess - ( sorty for the crudity - she should be pictured happily being gangbanged wearing an Iranian flag as viel - or similar. This a big fail.

    April 7, 2012

  • Joyce

    Well said Shabaan!

    April 5, 2012

  • Shabaan

    This is a rather naive project. There is no such thing as nudity - particularly in an arty photo. The body - particularly the female body - is always dressed in cultural meaning. In photography this is especially true in the way the body is posed, composed, partly dressed, lit, framed etc. The person also 'dresses' their unclothed body in the way they pose, the props they choose, tattoos piercings etc. I can see that there is an effort to avoid the cliched, objectifying images of naked women in this calendar but some of these pictures still use the tropes of soft-porn. The most important questions are: Why should women have to use their bodies to protest? Doesn't this stunt still reduce women, as subjects, to their bodies? Nudity is NOT the antithesis of veiling. Veiling always implies unveiling – it is an obsession with the female body. The antithesis of the veil is the representation of a strong female subject that has nothing to do with what she does or doesn’t wear.

    April 5, 2012

  • TannourineWarrior

    Dear Angie, you seem like a very progressive women very in touch with the pulse of modern society. Why don't you pose nude, as I am sure that the majority of NowLebanon's viewers would much more appreciate this statement of freedom for women as opposed to others? Seriously, you should consider this. I am sure that this would go viral and it would show that Miss Angie Nassar can walk the walk as well as talk the talk! Yalla ya Angie, I am the first to nominate you for a nude statement. Any others in favour?

    April 5, 2012

  • Sophia DiMarco

    Come one, come all you atheist, feminist, lesbian left-wing minorty!!! Beware the antithesis of all great civilizations! Maryam, please put your clothes back on and return to the fold of a civilized and respectful society that promotes & recognizes the strength of a woman through her ability to stand with her husband as pillars of strength and integrity for their children and grandchildren. Your message is one of embarassment to all women who have been pulled from their homes and families by a leftist agenda. There are other ways to achieve fame Maryam and let your voice be heard. May your struggle to find yourself not be lead by these awkward lesbian, feminists. Free yourself by being free of them. You are too beautiful to be a Lesbian anyways!

    April 3, 2012

  • persianp

    stipping for mullahs - they're laughing under their turbans - month by month

    April 3, 2012

  • Balsey

    maybe this is a first mover's advantage in establishing a post revolution iranian porn-boy calendar- mmm

    April 3, 2012

  • Alessandra

    You are doing an excellent work, I admire your courage and strength. Your main critics would be those who are trapped in the misogyny of their archaic dogma. Keep it flowing!!!

    April 3, 2012

  • Richard Elson

    Regarding nudity: it is not possible to formulate a cogent case against nudity, per se. Prurient finger-waggers would more usefully apply their intellect in the pursuit of an understanding of biology, instinct and sexual selection. Argument derived from social convention is weak, at best, and subject to great variation socially and geographically. Regarding the right of female self-determination: non-coercive nudity is a positive statement, regardless of others' perceptions. Regarding the bourgeois slur: fellacious ad hominem attacks reveal much about the detractor and contribute little to debate. Regarding the calendar: a most fitting tool with which to chart the progress of the revolution. I, for one, am delighted to support Maryam in her struggle, however she determines her path.

    April 2, 2012

  • MA

    the only think that I envy Iran is that there aren't nude photos of women

    April 2, 2012

  • Paolap

    Its like running naked during a football match - its funny - Iran vs rest of world - wooohoooooooo !

    March 31, 2012

  • Zav

    critical thinkng/comment advances human kind. Nude posters is a base approach

    March 30, 2012

  • Dave Kisor

    The world is full of critics, most of whom could not do what they have criticize.

    March 30, 2012

  • FO

    Also, in the society I live men are expected to be able to control themselves regardless of how a woman dresses. Since when are Muslim men such cowards? What kind of society have you built?

    March 29, 2012

  • sherine

    Nothing wrong with nudity - dont get me wrong - I just don't feel you are making a positive impact - instead of liberating the Iranian woman - you belittling us with your - me too - look at me "feminist" liberalism - if you going to make an important statement - try not to be so poor at it

    March 28, 2012

  • rafic

    The way I look and think is if you believe in God and we should be ashamed of nudity then why we are born nude would't God cover us,also what about in Amazon forest lots of Indian tribes run around nude also some parts of Africa, who knows where else ,so what do you say to these people?

    March 28, 2012

  • Vaughan Stone

    Don't take any notice of the negative/vile comments Maryam - these individuals just don't get it because they're so mired in arbitrary so-called social niceties that harp back (whether they realize it or not) to religious dogma. How juvenile to be ashamed of one's body or to pass negative judgement on others for showing their body, especially in this instance when they should understand the valid antithetical reason for doing so - i.e. against the burka specifically and more generally the vile treatment of of women in Sharia-informed Muslim society. Biggest hug to you dear lady! x

    March 28, 2012

  • FO

    I read a lot of comments, here, talking about shame. I still don't get what is so shameful about a human body. I still don't get what is so dangerous, so detrimental for a society. There are several happy societies, developed and less, where the absence of clothes is not a big deal. Still, if a country is defiled with bigots, acts of normality become revolutionary. These women needed a lot of courage for something that should not need it, I fully support them.

    March 28, 2012

  • dd

    great job maryam. nudity is beautiful, and one day we'll all be rid of the horrible, disgusting bigots who oppress people in the name of some imaginary "god" just to feel morally superior to others. one day we all can be whatever gender, whatever sexuality and no one will think we're lesser sub-humans because of it or condemn us to hell for it. keep up the good fight!

    March 28, 2012

  • Tom Hail

    Great courage! You are an inspiration Maryam! The fear of women being strong and assertive has to be stood up to everywhere. It is amazing how so many here don't get it. To fear and hide the female form needs to be grown out of if a society is to progress. To see the female form for the beautiful act of nature that it is, is to accept nature, our nature and respect it. Respect brings on more respect in turn and a better world. Fear and coveting of women brings only abuse and conflict. Bravo Ms Namazie and the other women in your project.

    March 28, 2012

  • Khosro

    Hey, just don't sit there and NAG!!! You who just sit back and do just NOTHING except gossiping! And now when someone brave steps in and takes the initiative, you just pop up your heads out of your hiding places and do just sabotage and cause obstacles! Shame on you!

    March 28, 2012

  • Asfaneh467

    khatami's made her loose her clothes!!!! Who is laughing - very borgious stupid - we iranians are our own worst enemy

    March 27, 2012

  • Homayoun

    I have nothing against nudity - stripping against the islamic revolution - quite ridiculous - quite pathetic - get a life

    March 27, 2012

  • Kaessa

    Great work, Maryam! Don't let the haters get you down.

    March 27, 2012

  • littlejohn

    I confess that I don't get it. But if this helps, good for you.

    March 27, 2012

  • andre

    Great cause! All you complaining about the nudity, I bet you don't do anything to make Iran a better place to live. You'd rather see a stoning or hanging than this calendar. Think and feel before you judge!

    March 27, 2012

  • =8)-DX

    Now the point here is that a bunch of chicks posting nude for a calendar is no big deal. I mean we even have youngsters doing nude graduation photos in my country and it's all just a big laugh. The problem is all the bigots DO think it's a big deal, and especially problematic are countries where these bigots are a majority or a vocal minority supported by the majority and stuff their bigotry down everyone's throats.

    March 27, 2012

  • George

    i greatly salute maryam for her courage as an act of freedom against all the oppression which her fellow women and men are facing in Iran at the hands of middle ages crazy tyrants.

    March 27, 2012

  • Ryanne421

    Maryam you are ridiculous

    March 27, 2012

  • TannourineWarrior

    Shamefull, these women should put their clothes back on...If you look at the short bio of most of these women, you will see that they are primarily atheists or left wing feminists and lesbian. They are trying to push ahead their godless, leftist agenda under the guise of "Freedom for Women". What a joke this calender is. Luckily it's free because I can't see anyone other than another lesbian or faminist atheist wanting to by one. These women, put your clothes back on please and unite under the umbrella of Faith & Family to further the cause of women rights...

    March 27, 2012

  • Finally

    If you want to do porn, just do it without filling your head with the "freedom" excuses.

    March 27, 2012

  • Khosro

    Maryam, don`t ever get discouraged and disappointed! How unimaginative are those who are unable to understand the depth of message you are conveying by doing this brave action! Their minds are handicapped and CAN NOT conceive that by doing this nudity you are targeting the heart of all that religious prejudice and dogmatism who shake the world every now and then in various different ways such as terrorism, honour killing etc. You are so brave Maryam, you are just doing great. Please don`t ever get disappointed just because some people`s minds are not open enough to understand what you have done!

    March 26, 2012

  • Khosro

    Maryam, Well done! What you said was pure gold," My body is not obscene; veiling is! You are genius Maryam! I love your perseverance and restlessness. Please do keep up the GOOD WORK!

    March 26, 2012

  • Setareh Shahbazi

    God help Iran!!!!

    March 26, 2012

  • Assfaneh

    Iranians are a proud people - now we can be proud and naked too!

    March 26, 2012

  • Delaram Shiazi

    yet another attention seeker - ouphhh

    March 26, 2012

  • Babek

    after 32 years or the Islamic revolution - you think stripping will make a difference - lol

    March 26, 2012

  • Habib Biktash

    As Maryam said, nudity is the antithesis of veil, and veil is synonym of womens' slaveory. So nudity is in fact freedom of women, and because of that it is also freedom of men.

    March 26, 2012

  • Khosro

    You are GREAT Maryam.

    March 26, 2012

  • Rrrr

    Have we suffered enough from the Iranians - please put your clothes back on! Bourgeois nonsense!

    March 25, 2012